Finding the Story: Scrapbooking Beyond the Who, What, When, and Where


We all run into this…

We have a photo, and something about the photo makes us want to scrapbook it.

But we don’t actually have anything to say, except the time and place of the picture.

We’re always hearing and talking about telling the story. But what do you say when it’s just another day at the park with your toddler, like a dozen other days and pages?

I’m staring at a picture like that right now. It’s a picture of my youngest son.

The obvious story is this: Aiden doing his spelling homework. He’s in second grade.

Kinda boring, huh?

But when I give myself a bit of quiet time with this photo — to really look at it, to think and to fall down a tangent of memories, and even to feel stuff — a story develops.

In this case, I notice the meticulous writing on Aiden’s paper.

And noticing that makes me remember a few different school experiences and some observations we made of Aiden over time.

Suddenly I have a more compelling story — something that really tells us about Aiden. Here’s my journaling:

“We worried in 2nd grade because you wouldn’t memorize your math facts. Not even the easiest ones. You just kept working them out in your mind. It turns out that you like to take your time in many areas to think things through. Your teacher said you were slower like this with writing too, but that it’s just a part of what makes
you good at the things you do: building things and even making instructions for building things. You are meticulous.”

And here’s the thing — by taking that extra moment before scrapbooking, not trying to come up with scrapbooking ideas, but instead to observe details, relive memories, ask questions — I not only found the story I really wanted to tell, but the design ideas naturally followed with hardly any effort on my part.


With the words, “meticulous nature” in my head, metal gear embellishments and soft honeycomb patterned paper jump out at me as a great way to visually tell a story of meticulous nature.

What’s the take-away here? Spend a couple of minutes enjoying your photos and your memories before you start thinking about designing the page. Really look at the photos. Enjoy the emotions. Ask yourself why you’re drawn to scrapbook these particular photos right now, of all the hundreds that are waiting.

Give it a try!

BTW — many people have asked me how to find the story beyond basic who – what – when – and where. That’s why I decided to make this the subject of the bonus webinar that I’m offering to you for free if you sign up for True Scrap using my affiliate links BY TODAY.

I’m really excited to share specific tactics you can take to find the bigger stories beyond the obvious. I’ll also walk you through more of my own page examples, just like this. And that’ll lead directly into its sequel — the topic I’m sharing for my class presentation at True Scrap.

If you haven’t really looked at what True Scrap is all about yet, please do now before you miss out on the bonus (valued at $40)!


Shine On,

P.S.> Today is your last day to qualify for my bonus webinar! Be sure to send me your receipt after you get your seat to True Scrap so I can add you to my bonus webinar invitation.

CLICK HERE for True Scrap info.

  • Caroline

    Noell, I love this! I’m using a Project Life-type approach to play catchup on several years’ worth of photos, and I’ve been wanting to do more with the journaling so it’s less dry and more meaningful. The way you’ve explained it here has really helped me! Plus I absolutely LOVE that background paper. :)

  • Thank you! I made that background and will be showing how in an upcoming episode of Paperclipping — hopefully the next video. :)

  • Krystal

    I really want to registar for True Scrap, but it’s not in my budget right now. However, is there an opetion to purchase your class by it’s self?

  • Caroline

    I’ll be looking for the video! :)

  • Thx for the interest. Individual classes to become available for sale some time after the event is over. I don’t know when. I think they’re $10 or $15 each, maybe.

  • Rosa M. Neno

    this was exactly what I was looking for! have wanted to start an album documenting my early dating days with my husband of 4 years. we have 3 years of dates, and this will certainly help.

  • Oh, how fun!!

  • Anya

    Love this page of yours! I also love any advice journaling and story related! Thanks for sharing.